Shohei Ohtani
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The Angels believe Shohei Ohtani will hit this year


Angels general manager Billy Eppler was on MLB Network Radio today and, not surprisingly, he was asked about the future of Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, as we all know by now, is nearing the end of an announced three-week rest period in which the Angels are evaluating the status of his ulnar collateral ligament and its responsiveness to PRP injections as an alternative to Tommy John surgery.

Since it is strongly suspected that, if Ohtani does have TJ surgery, he would be subject to a cautious rehabilitation scheduled and would thus not return to the mound until 2020, they can choose to put off that surgery for some time without affecting that timetable. In the meantime, questions remain about Ohtani’s ability to hit.

So: even if he’s not allowed to pitch again this season and even if he needs Tommy John, he’ll likely be a DH at some point. If he has Tommy John it remains to be seen if he could hit at any point in 2019 — my guess would be no, but you never know — but they’d at least be able to get something out of their two-way star.

Of course, events may render all of this far less important than we first thought it would a few weeks back. Anaheim has played poorly of late and the Astros have surged, leaving the once-contending Angels in fourth place in the division, 11.5 games out. As such, the decisions about Ohtani, however consequential for him, seem far less important for the club’s 2018 playoff prospects than they were a short time ago.

Indians designate Carlos Gonzalez for assignment

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The Indians have designated outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment. This comes after Gonzalez batted a mere .210/.282/.276 over 117 plate appearances in Cleveland. That came after he had to settle for a minor league contract with the Indians in mid-March.

A few years ago Gonzalez was a superstar, winning three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, making the All-Star team three times and coming in third in the MVP balloting once upon a time. That was then, however. His most recent good season came in 2016, when he hit .298/.350/.505 with 25 homers and drove in 100. In 2017 and 2018 he combined to hit .232/.269/.334. Between his falloff in production and the fact that his big numbers of the past were heavily supported by playing at Coors Field, it should not be shocking that he couldn’t make it work in Cleveland.

If he wants to continue his career, he’ll no doubt have to take a minor league gig someplace. Otherwise, this could be the end of the line.